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Dealing with a sprained wrist can be quite the painful and uncomfortable experience. You may be an active person who likes to play sports or someone who has a busy work life and can’t afford to take that much time off from your job. If you are reading this articles, chances are good that you are looking to heal as quickly as possible from a sprained wrist. There’s a lot of conjecture and speculation out there regarding the healing process and timeline for a sprained wrist that can be very unhelpful. However, in this article, you are going to get the facts you need to understand how long it will take to heal a sprained wrist as quickly as possible so your life can get back to normal.
When it comes to a sprained wrist, the symptoms are quite easy to understand and diagnose. It’s likely you will feel a strong pain in your affected wrist as well as some swelling initially that will turn into tenderness for the next few weeks. There may also be some bruising and it’s possible that you could have a little tear in the wrist.
The first step to complete in the healing process is to see a doctor who is a specialist when it comes to the hand and wrist. He or she will give you a thorough physical examination in order to diagnose how serious of a sprain it is and how long the healing process will take. You’ll want to have an X-ray, MRI, arthrogram, or an arthroscopy done on your wrist so that the doctor can classify which grade of a sprain your injury is. It’s important to be aware that there are three different grades of a sprained wrist with the Grade I being the least painful and Grade III being the most painful.
If you have a sprained wrist, you’re going to want to hear the good news that it’s only a Grade I sprain, which involves some pain but only minor damage to your wrist ligament(s). The Grade II and Grade III sprains can be much more severe in terms of both pain, loss of ligament, overall function, and the looseness of your joint(s). Surgery on your wrist is likely to be required in order for the healing process to quicken when it comes to either a Grade II or Grade III strain but make sure you consult your doctor first before making that decision. Depending upon the person’s circumstances, the recovery time for a wrist surgery could be anywhere from six weeks to three months. It is recommended to have some physical therapy sessions after the surgery and to wear a small cast in order to allow the ligaments to heal properly. When it comes to the wrist, the most important aspects to the recovery process are to regain both strength and the range of motion. The most tried and true method for recovering quickly after a surgery or a sprained wrist diagnosis is to follow the RICE principle.
If you’re confused reading about the RICE principle for a sprained wrist, do not worry because I will explain the four concepts to you so you can heal fast and without any issues. The RICE principle stands for Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate. Each of these four concepts can help anybody heal quickly from a wrist sprain regardless of the severity or mildness of that person’s injury. After getting the wrist sprain, it’s important to rest the wrist for at least two days or more so that you’re not putting any undue pressure on it, which would make the injury worse. You should also be icing the affected part of the wrist every couple of hours or so after the sprain occurs. The consensus seems to be that you should ice with an icepack or a bag of ice every three to four hours for 20 to 30 minutes each time. It’s important to do this step for at least two or three days after the sprain happens. You may even want to do it for longer than three days depending on if you still feel pain and/or if the swelling hasn’t gone down yet.
The third and fourth steps of Compression and Elevation make up the last two parts of RICE. In order to prevent the sprain from getting worse, it’s very important to compress it with a bandage or a small cast if need be. The blood to your wrist needs to be pumping effectively after you suffer a sprain, which is why you should try as often as possible to elevate the wrist above your chest and your heart in the days after your injury occurs. In order to elevate the wrist on a consistent basis, it’s important to place the wrist on a table, on a pillow, or on the back of the chair. Getting your blood to circulate will cause the swelling to go down and also alleviate some of your pain too.
Beyond RICE and getting a surgery done as quickly as possible, there are some additional steps that can be taken to speed up the healing process albeit with some risk involved. You can take some anti-inflammatory painkillers such as Aleve, Motrin, etc. to help with the pain and swelling but there are usually some side effects involved with their usage such as internal bleeding and ulcers. Also, you can decide to use a cast or a splint to heal quicker, but this should only be done for a short period of time and with the approval of your doctor beforehand. If you use the splint or cast too long, you run the risk of more stiffness in your wrist and muscle weakness too. Also, it’s important to remember to only seek out wrist surgery if you have a high Grade II strain or a Grade III strain that requires it.
I hope that this article has been helpful to you and that your sprained wrist heals as quickly as possible. If you follow the advice contained in this article above, you should be back to playing sports, or writing reports at work in no time at all. Be patient, listen to your doctor, and do the RICE process and you should be fine.